June running challenge

I decided to challenge myself this month. In June, I am going to attempt to run a mile every day.

I’ve been rather slothful lately in my workouts, running only once, maybe twice a week, if that, and I’m feeling a little schlumpy, if you know what I mean.

If you do know what I mean, tell me so we’ll both know.

At this morning’s weigh-in I realized I was above the 200 pound plateau I was so happy I’d finally broken (200.5 pounds, to be exact). The weight gain might have contributed to my recent running slump or the running slump contributed to the weight gain. Whatever.

On the last day of May, the 31st, I ran a slow and schlumpy 5k on the treadmill. For whatever reason, I just didn’t have the energy to run at the more intense pace I’d reached just a month prior. I kept slowing down, even walking, before forcing myself into a sprint, with the hopes of burning off the lazy. It didn’t and I finished the run very disheartened and unsatisfied. 

Because I felt so out of shape  (even though I’m still in better shape than I was just a year ago when I returned to running), I decided to take up the … drumroll, please  … June Mile A Day Challenge

I believe Runner’s World has one of these mile-a-day challenges going on, but when I looked it up, I was already too late. It started on Memorial Day and will run until the 4th of July. I guess that adds up to 37 miles in 37 days.

Since I missed it  (although I guess I could have cheated and said my 5k counted as a mile for May 29, 30, and 31st), I decided to run my own challenge starting on June 1st.

Yesterday I ran a decent mile in about 8:48, I believe. 

This morning, yes, I said this morning. I know, right? Me, an affirmed hater of mornings and morning people, actually getting up and doing something strenuous before I’ve had my coffee?

To put this in perspective, the last time I ran in the morning was 1985. I hated it and never did it again. And before that, it was a decade earlier at boot camp, where I didn’t have much choice,  except in the hating of it.

But I figure, if I’m going to complete a challenge of running a mile every single day, then I don’t want to take the chance that something might come up in the evening that could interfere with me getting my run in. 

Thus, I ran this morning.

Typically in the morning, my wife gets up first, takes her shower, then I get up and stumble downstairs into the shower. This morning however, I got up when she did (on the sly so she wouldn’t ask me a bunch of questions before I had some coffee — yes, I’m a complete bear in the morning), did some calf stretches, put on my gear, and hit the treadmill. 

And To be honest, it wasn’t that bad of an experience. I did not hate it, which I was totally prepared for. I got a decent time in, I forget exacts — c’mon, it was 5:30 in the morning! — but it was slightly over 9 minutes. Not too shabby for my first morning run in over thirty years.

Afterward, I took a cool, almost cold shower, which again, if you know me is completely divergent from my normal shower which is so hot it’s like a steam bath in there when I finish. Since I was already hot from running, I figured the shower would cool me down.

One benefit of a morning run I did not foresee — and since it’s my first morning run I can’t really extrapolate today’s experience as the new normal — is that I was not tired and sluggish when I got to work.

Mornings are usually a struggle for me to stay awake, no matter how many coffees I guzzle, which is why I’ve always hated them. I operate in this fog for the first couple hours. Given my druthers, I would rather sleep until 9:30 am to avoid feeling so muddled.

But this morning, I felt bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, as they say. If I discover this is an actual sustainable benefit, then I might continue to run in the morning. *shudder* Did I really just say that?

I hope another benefit of morning runs is that I won’t struggle to fall asleep at night. As I’ve mentioned previously, evening runs tend to make for restless nights. I haven’t figured out why. Usually an aspirin or two and a melatonin help. Last night they didn’t. But with a morning run, all that excess energy or adrenaline or whatever it is that courses through our veins after a run will have long since disappated by the time I lay down to sleep.

Maybe that’s why I’m more alert this morning, because the post-run juices that prevent me from falling asleep are helping to keep me alert now.

One last thing just so there’s no misunderstanding: I am not now, nor will I ever be, a morning person

Just because you happen to see me up and running in the morning and you give me a chipper “Good morning!” along with a cheerful smile and an enthusiastic wave, does not mean I will reply in kind.

If I do growl, “morning,” however, it is merely an acknowledgement as to the time of day and not to the quality of it.

A curmudgeon I am and a curmudgeon I will remain until the sun reaches its zenith and I’ve had my four cups of coffee.

Have you joined the mile-a-day challenge?

Day 2, Mile 2.

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Some weighty thoughts

A long time ago, I read somewhere, can’t recall where, this was long before the Internet, so it was in a magazine, possibly “Prevention,” or “Shape,” or something along those lines.

A so-called health and fitness doctor said, “You’re ideal weight is what you weighed when you graduated high school.”

OK. There is one problem with that. What if you already had a weight problem then? Just because he seemed to have been at an ideal weight for him when he graduate high school, doesn’t translate to everyone having that same idealness.

For instance, I was just skin and bones when I graduated high school. I weighed all of 125 pounds. That translates to an underweight Body Mass Index (BMI) of 17.7. Normal BMI range for adults is 18.5 to 24.9. I was in the 9th percentile, meaning 91% of Americans weighed more than I did at my age and height.

I was able to suck in my gut so far, it would go up into my rib cage.

Skinny-Friend-That-Eats-A-Lot-Y-U-No-Get-Fat_o_101316

Yeah. I was one of those people who could eat as much as I wanted, not exercise, and never gained an ounce of weight. Those were the days.

Except it’s wasn’t my ideal weight. I was too skinny. For my height my ideal weight should be between 134 and 167 pounds. When I reach my current weight goal of 185, I’ll still be marginally overweight according to most health charts and I’ll have a BMI of 26.5.

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I was a 17 as a teenager and a 33 just a few years ago

But when I reach that, I’ll still be healthier than I am now and I’ll also be healthier than I was when a I graduated high school.

So I have no idea where that so-called expert came up with the notion that your high school weight is your ideal weight, because that’s just a stinking pile of bullshit.

What is your ideal weight? Well, you could look at all the charts and graphs and measure and weight yourself until you come up with an estimate or you could just go see your health care professional, discuss your health goals and desires, and together you can come up with a healthy and reasonable weight goal. They might even be able to prepare a diet and exercise plan.

Do not put any faith into the Internet or so-called celebrity experts.

As they say, consult your doctor before you start any exercise or weight loss program.

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A weigh we go!

I’m reaching what for me is a milestone in my weight. 

Me, after my thyroid went wonky

Back in 1999, I blew up like the Michelin Man when my thyroid went on the fritz. Seriously, I have one picture that if I find it shows that is no exaggeration. My skin is white and puffy and you can hardly see my eyes because they’re just slits surrounded by puffy flesh. My lower legs were the worst. They had lost all their hair and were like playdough. You could push in on the flesh and leave a one-and-a-half inch indent that would stay there for quite some time. (Anyone remember the old pulp fiction action hero, The Avenger, who had lost nerve function to his face and could mold it like putty, changing his appearance to that of anyone? It was a little like that.)

I thought I was dying. I was scared.

My doctor ran me through a whole battery of tests to figure out what was wrong — nerve testing for my carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms, chiropractors for my severe back pain, blood tests to see why I was cold and tired all the time — which is amusing (now that I look back on it), because we had a ferret who had a thyroid problem and he lost all the hair on his legs, so my wife kept saying it was my thyroid; it took my doctor months to come to the same conclusion!

And my weight shot up because my thyroid wasn’t regulating body functions properly; I was retaining fluids and I was just too damned tired to exercise. This experience has also made me a little less critical of people with weight problems because as with me, it might not be their fault and might be a medical condition.

So since 1999, I’ve been well over 200 pounds. I think I might have peaked close to 250 before I started taking my thyroid medication.

Today, I weighed myself and I’m almost, but not quite, at the point where I’ll drop below 200 pounds. Honestly, I can’t remember when I was below that. Early 1990s when I was still running seriously, before I developed shin splints? 

Now I’m only a couple pounds on the wrong side of 200. Part of me wants to fast just to reach it, but my luck, my body will think it’s experiencing a famine and it will hold onto its fat reserves even more tenaciously. So, no. Fasting isn’t the answer.

I do think I’ll run more often now that I see I’m approaching that marker. Instead of running three times a week, I’ll try to run five. Yesterday was the first time i ran on back-to-back days and i felt good.

Even though i can see 200, I’m nowhere near finished; after 200, I’ll still have at least 15 more pounds to go to reach my goal, but 200 is a great marker indicating my goal is within reach.

Yesterday, for grins, I lugged around a 20 pound barbell. It was exhausting! And I used to carry that, and more, around all the time!

By the way, losing weight is hard. You have to do exhausting aerobic exercises, get your heart rate up, sweat, breath heavy, for at least 20 minutes at a time, every other day preferably, plus you have to watch what you eat, count calories, watch fats, increase fiber, eat more fruits and veggies, and drink a lot of water (not soda or sugary energy drinks), and even then, depending on your.motabolism, you aren’t guaranteed fast results or huge losses.

Anyone who tells you losing weight is easy or all you need is their magic pill or secret formulation or miracle diet or superfood, tell them to Fuck Off. In fact, punch them in the nose, give them a good kick in the groin, then tell them to Fuck Off. The punch and kick will be good exercise.

Eat right. Drink water. Exercise your ass off.

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New year same old goals

Yes, yes, I’m well aware it’s already the 6th of January and I haven’t posted my 2017 New Year’s resolutions yet.

That’s because I don’t have any. Not really. Not any that I sat down and agonized over.

My goals for this year are the same as last year and the year before. Just keep getting better and better, every day in every way.  But if you want something more specific than that wonderful life philosophy, then here, they fall into the following categories:

Health & Fitness: My goals here are simple. To keep losing weight. To try to eat healthier, with more fruits and veggies and a lot of pasta and cheese. To keep improving on my running, distance and speed. And to keep trying to sculpt my aging body through weight training by adding muscle as I lose fat.

Writing: Again, simple goals. Keep reading and keep writing. Try to write something every day. Maybe go back to keeping a journal of ideas and stream of conscious thoughts, like I did back in my early days of writing. I will also try not to get discouraged and try not to take Rejections as personal insults. That last one is a hard goal, because every Rejection sends me into a blue funk. I need to change my thinking that they aren’t rejecting me, they’re rejecting my story.

Mental Health: Yes, OK, let’s move on, nothing to see here. I’m working on dealing with my ADHD in all its manifestations.Maybe I’ll try to get back into meditation or something.

And that, as they say, is that.

Well, I do have one new unspecified goal and that’s in regard to politics. I intend to get more involved, contact my Representatives more often on issues of importance, and to join the resistance against the big orange turd in an attempt to prevent him from destroying all the progressive advances we’ve made as a nation over the past 100 years. He lost the popular vote by nearly 3 million votes and only won the Electoral College by 80,000 votes in three states. He does not have a mandate. He’s disliked more than any other incoming President in history. He does not even deserve to be President. He represents the worst qualities of Mankind: hate, bigotry, intolerence, zenophobia, homophobia, and sexism.

Join the fight. Let your voice be heard. The election is only lost if you give up and normalize ignorance  and racism.

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Losing natural insulation

Just a quick thought. Since it’s now winter here (it’s 20°F here so please don’t say, “Well, winter doesn’t actually start until December 21st,” because I will hurt you) I’ve noticed the cold affects me more. 

I’m going to assume it’s because I’ve lost a layer of blubber, at least 20 pounds of its, and that’s the reason I’m feeling the cold more than I did before.

So cold that I’m often wearing a little winter skull cap or wrapping myself in a blanket. (And the first person who says, “You are getting older,” will join the previous pedant for a dinner of knuckle sandwiches).

To be honest, I haven’t researched if fat people are better at dealing with the cold than thin people, I can only report what I’m noticing with regard to my own body.

And I can only assume, since I’ve got at least another 20 pounds to go before I reach my goal weight, that I will only get colder and colder.

Thing is, I always made fun of those people who always are cold. I’ve always worn short sleeved shirts no matter the season. When others were putting on winter coats, I’d wear a light spring jacket.

I don’t want to be among the Always Cold.

 I don’t want to live my life in a Snuggle!

And here I had gone and tossed out all my sweaters and turtle necks because I was too hot all the time to wear them.

I really dislike clothes shopping.

Run. Lose weight. Get a Snuggie.

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Run Ed Run Part II

Revenge of the Splints.

And then …

I had no and then. Sorry. But what I did do is over the last two years, I’ve tried to lose a little weight. I ate salads for lunches and managed to lose 16 pounds.

And I managed to gain ten. But I didn’t become disheartened. Instead I took a long hard look at my eating habits. I’ve learned that I don’t eat because I’m hungry. I eat because it’s a mindless habit. 10am is snack time. Noon is lunchtime. 2pm is another snack. And so on. Well, I’ve tried to limit how much I eat. I’ve become a nibbler. Between a good breakfast and dinner I will now eat a few pretzels, some carrots or snap peas, an orange or an apple. And that’s it.

So I’m down six pounds at last count.

As the weight has come off, I’ve tried to run. And I discovered something else about myself: I’m an impatient bastard.

I want to be in shape NOW. I want to run fast and long NOW. So I started up on the treadmill a couple months ago and instantly set it for a 12 minute mile.

I did that a few times the first week. At the end of the run I was gasping for breath. And my shin splits started to nag me again.

It was a conversation with my doctor that made me see the light. I said, “I can’t run like I did in my twenties.” And he said, “That’s because you aren’t in your twenties.”

Well duh. Obvious, now that someone said it.

So how do I run at my age? Slowly. Building up gradually. I went back to step one. I used my treadmill’s programmed functions to run a slower pace.

I started running at a slow pace for 12 minutes. Just enough to sweat, but not so much that I was winded.

And it’s working. In the last few weeks I’ve worked up to running 1.5 miles in a little under 20 minutes. Still not so fast that I’m gasping like a fish out of water, nor too stressful that my shins are protesting.

Plus I’m doing various lower leg stretches and using a yoga roller tube thingie.

I just have to be patient, no matter how much I’m chafing at the bit to set a personal best in time or distance.

One step at a time, as they say.

I just have to remember to go slow and easy and with time, I’ll improve.

I’m running again and that makes me happy.

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An American Guide to Understanding Soccer

The World Cup begins today. If you’re like most Americans, that phrase is meaningless, as it should be. But if you’re curious, I’m here to help.

The World Cup is like our SuperBowl, only nowhere near as exciting. That’s because the sport involved is something called soccer, a sport the rest of the world made up because they were jealous we had all the good sports, such as baseball, football, basketball, dodge ball, wrestling, roller derby, curling, and hockey, which we share with Canada. And because they were jealous, they even named it after our game of football to cause confusion, hoping some unwary Americans would tune in and inadvertently boost their television ratings, which they already claim are in the hundreds of millions.

But they measure viewership, like they measure everything else, in those weird metrics, so if you were to convert that into American television Nielsen Ratings it actually equates to 15 viewers.

If you’re curious about the game’s history, read on. Soccer was invented in the 1950s by a couple of bored Germans who only had a basketball and a hockey net to play with. They tried shooting hoops, but that proved rather unsatisfying as neither missed so their game of Horse would have gone on forever until one of them in frustration kicked the basketball. The other German yelled, “Hans, stop!” Fearing the basketball would destroy their hockey net he made a spectacular leap, catching the ball just before it went in.

Hans said, “Hey, Fritz, that was fun!” And then they each took turns kicking the ball while the other tried to block it from going in. And thus, soccer was born.

It quickly took off because everyone could play it and you didn’t need any equipment other than a ball, two nets, and your mom’s knee high socks. Heck, even today the game hasn’t advanced very much equipment-wise. They don’t even own cups, which is why they stand in front of the goal covering their dicks.

A side note here, no one has ever fully explained why they needed this new sport in the first place when they already had one of the most exciting, balls-to-the-wall, manly sports ever in rugby. But that’s neither here nor there.

Americans first heard of soccer in the 1960s because of the exploits of one Brazilian player known as Pelé and because of the table game many taverns had known as foosball, which is what many Americans call soccer even today. “Hey look, Billy Bob, there’s a foosball game on the television machine.”

Sadly, soccer has only produced two famous players in the last 50 years, compared to the hundreds upon hundreds of stars American sports have produced. These were the aforementioned Pelé and more recently David Beckam, who was really made famous because he married a Spice Girl and a movie was named after him then his actual playing ability, as proven by how poorly he performed when he came to America. Now you’d have thought someone of his supposed soccer prowess would have been like Wayne Gretzky or Michael Jordon playing against children, but no, he bombed worse than “Ishtar” with Warren Beatty and Dustin Hoffman.

This lack of talent is one of the reason the rest of the world hates America so much, because we just naturally ooze athleticism but we choose to ignore their sport. They know if just one American made it big in soccer, then their sport would finally be accepted here and Americans would watch it. Sure, when pigs fly and America goes metric. Don’t hold your breath, bucko.
The rules of soccer are simple. Everyone runs around like chickens with their heads cut off kicking a speckled ball until some announcer yells, “Gooooooooal!” There is a clock that keeps counting up, not down as in the majority of sports that make sense, so they never know when to end the game and usually stop when all the fans have fallen sleep and its too dark to see the ball. One other thing about soccer, if you recall, the game was created by Germans, who have lousy hand-eye coordination. You know this from watching any John Wayne World War II movie; the Germans couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn. And that is the reason they aren’t allowed to use their hands and why most Americans, who have the greatest hand-eye coordination in the world, can’t play soccer.

So there you have it, my friends, a brief history on the game of soccer. Now as we head into this weekend of World Cup festivities, you are fully armed with the facts so when some nerdy guy requests they put soccer on the tele in your favorite tavern, you can shout down the little freak with “Soccer sucks” knowing your opinion is now an informed one.

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